War and Peace (1956 film)

War and Peace (Italian: Guerra e pace) is a 1956 American-Italian war drama film directed by King Vidor and written by Vidor, Bridget Boland, Mario Camerini, Ennio De Concini, Gian Gaspare Napolitano, Ivo Perilli, Mario Soldati, and Robert Westerby based on Leo Tolstoy's 1869 novel of the same name. The film, released by Paramount Pictures, was produced by Dino De Laurentiis and Carlo Ponti with a music score by Nino Rota and cinematography by Jack Cardiff.

War and Peace
Theatrical release poster
Directed byKing Vidor
Produced by
Screenplay by
Based onWar and Peace
by Leo Tolstoy
Music byNino Rota
CinematographyJack Cardiff
Edited byLeo Cattozzo
Ponti-De Laurentiis Cinematografica
Distributed by
Release date
  • August 21, 1956 (1956-08-21) (United States)
  • December 29, 1956 (1956-12-29) (Italy)
Running time
208 minutes
  • United States
  • Italy
  • English
  • Italian
  • Russian
Budget$6 million
Box office15,707,723 admissions (Italy)[1]
$6.25 million (US and Canadian rentals)[2]

The film stars Audrey Hepburn, Henry Fonda, and Mel Ferrer, along with Vittorio Gassman, Herbert Lom, John Mills and Anita Ekberg, in one of her first breakthrough roles. It had Oscar nominations for Best Director (King Vidor), Best Cinematography, Color (Jack Cardiff) and Best Costume Design, Color (Maria De Matteis).


Differences from the novel

The film script had to be greatly condensed from the extensive original novel. It is primarily focused on Natasha, Pierre, and Andrei, their complex relationship and personal maturation on the backdrop of the historical events of the Napoleonic invasion.

  • In Moscow, most of the scenes take place at the Rostov residence, and episodes at the country estates are curtailed, with some exceptions such as the hunt where Natasha first meets Andrei. This is a condensation of two scenes at the Rostov country estate, since in the novel Andrei, who by then is already Natasha's fiancé, is not present at the hunt.
  • There are no scenes in St. Petersburg.
  • The relationship between Nicholas, Sonya and Maria is toned down.
  • Historical figures retained are General Kutuzov and Napoleon.
  • Minor battles are omitted, while Napoleon's crossing of the Berezina, not mentioned in the novel, is added.
  • The concept of the inner dialogue is retained, notably in regard to Natasha, but the extensive use of French is not retained in the film.
  • Events of the epilogue are not included, nor are Tolstoy's discourses about history.


The film received mixed reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes reports that 33% of 6 reviews were positive, with an average rating of 4.8/10.[3]

The film is the Italian film with the most number of admissions in Italy with 15,707,723 admissions.[1]

The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:

See also


  1. "La classifica dei film più visti di sempre al cinema in Italia". movieplayer.it. January 25, 2016. Retrieved October 4, 2019.
  2. "The Top Box-Office Hits of 1956". Variety. January 2, 1957.
  3. "War and Peace (1956)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved November 24, 2015.
  4. "AFI's 100 Years of Film Scores Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved August 13, 2016.
  5. "AFI's 10 Top 10 Nominees" (PDF). Archived from the original on July 16, 2011. Retrieved August 19, 2016.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
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